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What is an Annotated Bibliography?
An annotated bibliography is an organized list of sources (like a reference list). It differs from a straightforward bibliography in that each reference is followed by a paragraph length annotation, usually 100–200 words in length.
Depending on the assignment, an annotated bibliography might have different purposes:
- Provide a literature review on a particular subject
- Help to formulate a thesis on a subject
- Demonstrate the research you have performed on a particular subject
- Provide examples of major sources of information available on a topic
- Describe items that other researchers may find of interest on a topic
Types of annotated bibliographies
There are two major types of annotated bibliographies:
- Descriptive or informative - annotated bibliography describes or summarizes a source as does an abstract, it describes why the source is useful for researching a particular topic or question, its distinctive features. In addition, it describes the author's main arguments and conclusions without evaluating what the author says or concludes.
- Analytical or critical - not only summarizes the material, it analyzes what is being said. It examines the strengths and weaknesses of what is presented as well as describing the applicability of the author's conclusions to the research being conducted.
For most of your annotated bibliographies, however, you will be writing analytical or critical annotations.
To Get Started
- Choose your sources Before writing your annotated bibliography, you must choose your sources. This involves doing research much like for any other project. Locate records to materials that may apply to your topic.
- Review the items Then review the actual items and choose those that provide a wide variety of perspectives on your topic. Article abstracts are helpful in this process.
- Write the citation and gather your information for the annotation When writing your annotation, the complete citation should always come first and the annotation follows. Depending on the type of annotated bibliography you are writing, you will want to include:
- The purpose of the work
- A summary of its content
- For what type of audience the work is written
- Its relevance to the topic
- Any special or unique features about the material
- The strengths, weaknesses or biases in the material
How to Write an Annotated Bibliography
- Write a reference list entry for each source in alphabetical order and in the format required
- Write the annotation paragraph(s)under each source as a new paragraph:
- The annotation is a short summary of the article in your own words. Avoid quoting and do not copy the abstract of the article.
- You may be asked to include information beyond a summary of the source, such as a short discussion of how the source supports your paper’s topic or your argument.
- Indent the entire annotation (rather than just the first line)in the same way you indent a block quotation
- If your annotation includes multiple paragraphs, indent the first line of each paragraph after the first
Example MLA Annotated Bibliography